Acupuncture and arthritis

Arthritis is extremely common and not fun. To break the word down, itis means inflammation, arth comes from the Greek word, arthron, meaning joint. A joint is where two bones articulate. So we have inflammation in the joints. And pain, because inflammation causes pain.
Acupuncture can help. It can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It does need ongoing treatment, because the arthritis itself, as far as I so far know, is ongoing. We seem to be able to improve it but not remove it altogether.
I’m investigating arthritis at the moment because I now have it myself and it’s challenging. I am developing lumps on my finger joints which I do not like and I would like them to go away. But however common arthritis is, it is not simple.
There’s plenty of information and advice on the Web. 8.75 million people in the UK have sought help and advice on osteoarthritis and about 400,000 people, also in the UK, have rheumatoid arthritis.
The first stop is always diet, for arthritis as for everything else, since we are what we eat. This is an interesting website:
I do eat meat although I was vegetarian for seven years several years ago and I understand the arguments for not eating meat. The way the majority of animals are raised for consumption now is horrific and I go out of my way to buy meat from an animal that has been properly and compassionately raised, and has spent most of its time outside, eating grass.
I don’t quite follow the Stone Age diet but I have very little grain and avoid the solanaceae, the deadly nightshade family, which are all slightly poisonous. These are potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, including paprika, chilli and cayenne. Goji berries and ashwaganda (an Indian herb used as an adaptogen)are also from the solanaceae family, and even blueberries, although I’m not sure about this and neither are the sources I have checked: They are all best avoided if you have arthritis or other inflammation-related health issues. Have a look at this article too: He says that blueberries do not contain solanine. I eat them rather a lot but I think I will give them a miss for a while.
I’ve read several articles on the Web and several books, the latest being The New Arthritis Cure by Bruce Fife, who has also written books about coconut oil, which naturally enough features in the arthritis book.
So now I have a long list of things to do, like oil-pulling (see Bruce Fife’s books) and exercise, which I do anyway, usually walking and yoga, (did you know that bouncing on a rebounder exercises every joint in the body, even in the fingers?) foods to avoid, like nightshades, chocolate, processed foods and sugar (I don’t have these anyway. Well, a bit of chocolate.)
However, none of these books or articles has mentioned oxalates, the salt form of oxalic acid, as in, for instance, spinach. I found out about these when I started avoiding grains. I personally think humans have not evolved to eat grasses and grains are cultivated grasses. I feel better without them but the pain in my fingers got worse because I had to find other things to eat than grains and one thing I started eating was a loaf made with ground almonds and flax seed. It was delicious but each slice probably had at least twenty almonds in it and if I had more than one slice, which I usually did, I had consumed a lot of almonds.
I discovered that almonds, and, in fact, most nuts and many vegetables are very high in oxalates, spinach extraordinarily so, which are microscopic stones with very sharp edges that lodge in damaged tissue. Here is another article, again from the Weston Price Foundation, on oxalates, which is very enlightening. They are more often associated with kidney stones but very relevant to any painful and inflamed tissues, including arthritis:

What I have realised, in the course of several years now studying the relationship of food and diet to health or ill-health, is that every food has a downside. Nothing is simple and completely benign. Grains, for instance, contain anti-nutrients that prevent some minerals from being absorbed and they are not easily processed at all by humans until they themselves have been processed, for example by fermentation. There is also the example of the deadly nightshade family that I have already mentioned. Meat, until fairly recently, had to be hunted and captured, no mean feat, I imagine. I think this is because every living thing on the planet gets eaten by some other living thing and so each species has evolved a defence system to try to prevent itself from being eaten. Being at the top of the food chain humans have no predators but we kill each other anyway, for power rather than hunger. But that’s another subject.

However, in the meantime, because all of the above takes time to implement and to take effect, I have had good results using acupuncture for arthritis: see my blog, Acupuncture Miracle No.1.

About water

I read a lot of books about health issues and how to look and feel better. A lot of them are about diet and there is a lot of conflicting advice. It can make giving advice to patients a bit problematic because as knowledge and books pile up so some things I have read get discarded and some are retained. It does become apparent that in many instances there is an agenda. Many books and articles are written on the basis of “it worked for me therefore it must be right, and if this is right then everything else is wrong.”
In the end I go with personal experience and suggest to my patients that they do the same thing. I rarely recommend a food supplement or practice I have not used myself.
However there are some things that are basic to health. Hydration is one of those. It is essential to drink enough water for the body to be able to function as it should.
Quite a while ago I read a book, “The Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, an Iranian doctor, on this theme. It does make for compelling reading. But personal experience is always the most convincing. Years ago, while I was at college, I made a visit to a chiropractor who was recommended by a friend. He clicked my back and it felt better but he also told me to drink lots of water for the next 24 hours. I did and I couldn’t believe how much better I felt in every way. I had more energy, felt more alert, more balanced emotionally and I actually was aware of feeling happier. I was astonished that just drinking more water could have such an effect.
The book recommends drinking 2 litres of plain water every day. If it’s very warm, drink more. If you are wanting to lose weight or help an existing health problem you should probably drink more. In this cold weather drinking cold water is not inviting but you can just take the edge of it by adding a tiny bit of hot water.
As with every change, do it gradually. If you are drinking very little at the moment, increase the amount over a couple of weeks or so. Give your body time to get used to it.
Another marvellous book on water, and quite different, is “The Hidden Messages in Water” by Masaru Emoto. He has been doing research on water for many years. He found that water from unpolluted and natural sources, such as springs, forms beautiful crystals. But water that is polluted or treated with chlorine is unable to form crystals. This is the water that most of us drink every day.
Water has a memory: homoeopathy is based on this principle. When exposed to loving words water also forms these crystals. Bearing in mind that the human body is largely made up of water, this is important. It makes a difference what we say to each other and to ourselves. I highly recommend this book. It is truly original.

Raw milk and other things

I’ve just started buying unpasteurised milk. I’ve been reading about the health benefits of raw milk and the loss of those benefits when you drink pasteurised milk. Raw milk contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes, including lactase to help digest the milk. When milk is pasteurised these bacteria and enzymes are destroyed. There are lots of websites giving information, and opinions, on the benefits of raw milk and raw milk products. This is one of them and also which also has a lot of interesting stuff on diet. Weston Price was an American dentist in the 1930s who visited indigenous peoples all over the world to investigate their ways of eating because he found that they had perfect teeth and bone structure and bodies that were in excellent shape generation after generation. They had no degenerative disease and there were no inherited defects. He put together a diet based on eating what he calls traditional foods, using the principles of the diets of primitive peoples i.e. those living apart from so-called civilisation.  

You can look on the Survival International website at the photographs of some of the few remaining indigenous people living in this way. It is striking how healthy they look and how beautiful they are. That is, the ones who have not been moved off their lands and on to Government-run reservations. Then they immediately have problems.

In fact, I used to travel 12 miles to a farm, when my children were very young, to buy raw milk. I mostly made yogurt with it, which meant that it was, of course, no longer raw, but it was delicious and the milk had not been processed in any way except by me.

Now I buy milk from Home Farm on the Goodwood Estate just outside Chichester. I’ve seen the cows in the fields and watched them trundling across the track (while I waited!) on their way to the milking shed. So I know they’re pasture (grass) fed and similarly the lambs which generously provide the meat I buy there. It’s worth looking into the issue of meat from grass-fed animals. The balance of the Omega 3 and 6 fats is as it should be because the animals are eating their natural diet. And of course they’re out in fields instead of being shut up in sheds and eating grain, which is not their natural diet and produces an unhealthy imbalance of essential fatty acids, which then gets passed to us if we consume their products. There’s an animal welfare issue there too. The animals obviously have a better time out in the fields and feel better eating their natural diet. They then live the life of an animal, rather than a food production machine.

There is a growing demand for raw milk and other dairy products. Selfridges in London started selling raw milk but then were stopped by the FSA (Food Standards Agency) who are currently considering the issue of raw milk. At the moment it’s only legally available to buy at the farm where it is produced. However, cheese made from unpasteurised milk is generally available in most supermarkets and certainly in specialist shops and delicatessens and some branches of Waitrose have started selling unpasteurised butter. I got some in Chichester. You can get salted or unsalted; it’s made in France, the label is Isigny Ste Mere and the salt is Guerande, which is untreated sea salt. So it’s good stuff and reasonably priced.

All of these are my personal choices. I’m finding out about and choosing what I want and at the same time supporting what I feel to be right. 97% of the food we buy now comes from the supermarkets. That gives them a lot of power to make choices for us. I think the remaining 3%, coming from farm shops, independent butchers, fishmongers etc, probably needs to grow a bit bigger. I use the supermarket because it is convenient but I also shop elsewhere when they haven’t got what I want or I don’t want what they have got. We are defined by the choices we make, in what we eat as much as in anything else. Let’s hang on to the power of choice. It matters. A lot.